Posts Tagged ‘Firearms’

Trump Advisor Sebastian Gorka Wanted for Firearms Offences in Hungary

January 27, 2018

Remember Sebastian Gorka, who was one of Trump’s key advisers in government, before the Orange Buffoon lost his rag and sacked him, like he’s done to so many others? Gorka was of Hungarian extraction, and had strong links to the Hungarian Far Right. He wore the insignia of the Vitezi Rend, the Hungarian chivalric order set up by Admiral Horthy, the Hungarian dictator, who led the country into a pact with Nazi Germany and assisted them with the Holocaust and deportations of Jews in his country. Gorka has also been personally active in a number of Hungarian Far Right organisations, and was one of the founders of one of them.

Turns out Gorka’s a wanted man. In this clip from the David Pakman Show, host David Pakman and his producer discuss the news that Gorka is wanted for firearms offences in Hungary going back before he became a member of Trump’s cabinet. Gorka has responded to this by making a non-denial. He Tweeted that the warrant was put out after he moved to America, adding ‘moron’ for good, insulting effect. But as they point out, this isn’t actually a denial that he is wanted for these crimes. Pakman also draws parallels of moving to America from South America, where he grew up. It’s perfectly possible that Gorka committed the offences after he emigrated to the US. Just because his primary residence is now the USA, does not mean he hasn’t been back to his family’s old homeland from time to time. Just as it doesn’t mean that because someone lives in California they have never been out of that state.

Pakman and his producer also point out that this also has dire implications for Trump’s claims that he’s hard on immigration and stands for law and order. Well, no, clearly he doesn’t. He claimed he was going to be super-hard on vetting his staff. He clearly wasn’t, otherwise Gorka’s arrest warrant would have been flagged, noted, and he wouldn’t have got the job. On the other hand, perhaps he was, and the Generalissimo of Reality TV didn’t care. Pakman also contrasts Gorka with the Mexican and Hispanic immigrants, who enter America to do physical work, like labouring. This wasn’t the case of a normal immigrant, who actually does something useful, like put in windows, fix the plumbing or mow the lawn. No, Gorka was a criminal immigrant, whom Trump took into the White House itself.

The last minute or so of the clip is a piece of advertising for their sponsors. I’m sorry for this, but I realise that shows like Pakman will only survive by advertising, and need sponsorship. Because Google is desperately trying to close down any left-wing news sites on the spurious grounds of combatting fake news.

As far as Gorka’s unsavoury activities and connections go, I honestly don’t think that Trump cares. He’s surrounded himself with all kinds of deeply unpleasant characters with extreme right-wing views, like Richard Spencer and the Alt Right. A century ago Gorka’s own ethnicity would have been problem for American nativists. Back in the 1920 right-wing American ethnic nationalists really didn’t like immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, like Poles and Hungarians, because they were considered racially inferior. Hitler in his Table Talk remarks that Hungarians are ‘men of the Steppe’, which is sort-of true in that the Magyars had been steppe nomads before the entered the Pannonian March in the 9th/10th century. And the Nazis despised the Poles and other Slavs as racial inferiors. Millions of Poles and related peoples were imported into Nazi Germany to work as slave labour. However, the Nazis strictly outlawed any sexual contact between Germans and Poles as a threat to Aryan racial purity. And if you look at some of the diagrams showing the differences between peoples in Nazi texts, like the handbook given out to the Hitler Youth, they portray the Poles and the other Slavs – Russians, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks, Ukrainians and so on – as having very Asiatic features similar to those of the Chinese and other east Asian peoples.

This racist contempt for the Slavonic peoples was reversed after the War, when the Nazis turned their attention to Black and Asian nationalist movements, and non-White immigration. The Shoah had made anti-Semitism absolutely unacceptable to most people, although in Britain and America groups like the National Front, BNP and the American Nazi Party were still goose stepping around in Nazi uniforms as late as the 1970s. Then the White Nationalists decided that Magyars and particularly Slavs, weren’t subhuman after all, and started actively recruiting them. Hence the re-emergence in these countries of anti-Semitism, now allied with a vicious Islamophobia, amongst a plethora of Far Right parties. And Sebastian Gorka’s inclusion in Trump’s cabinet of horrors, along with other prominent leaders and spokespeople for the racist Right.

Hungarian workers, like the other varied immigrant groups in America and the new, Hispanic immigrants Trump and his supporters despise, contributed greatly to building the American economy. One of the heroes of working class folklore amongst the steelworkers of Pittsburgh, was Hungarian. He became a larger than life figure, similar to Paul Bunyan in the logging camps of the West, and was reputedly able to paddle and splash in superheated molten metal. This came at a time when working people had strong unions, which could demand respect and insist on their rights. All of which has been destroyed by pernicious Reaganomics and the neo-liberal assault on the working and lower middle classes that has followed it.

We need more working class heroes like the immigrant workers, Irish, Chinese, Italian, Slav, Hungarian, and oppressed domestic indigenous groups like Afro-Americans, who physically built America, toiling on its roads, railways and factories. And as Pakman points out, the Hispanic immigrants have proved themselves invaluable in doing dirty jobs no-one else wants to do. In fact, after one town kicked them all out, it then found it had a labour shortage and appealed for them to come back.

What we don’t need, is more far Right racists like Gorka and his domestic counterparts in the Alt-Right, Klan and various Nazi parties.

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Danish Amateur Rocketeers Aim for Space

November 19, 2015

This is truly awesome! It’s a VICE documentary I found on Youtube about Copenhagen Suborbitals, a non-profit organisation formed by two Danish guys, Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen, who are building their own spacecraft to carry a person on a sub-orbital spaceflight.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that both have a background as professional rocket engineers. Bengtson used to work for NASA, while his partner, Peter Madsen, also has a background in rocket science. Bengtson got in touch with Madsen after Madsen built and launched his own submarine, the Nautilus, and stated that he’d like to go back to rockets.

Their spacecraft, Beautiful Betty, is built from off the shelf components, like domestic boilers. The rocket uses ethanol as its fuel, and LOX, liquid oxygen, to oxidise it to make it combust. At the time the film was posted in 2012 Bengtson and Madsen were still experimenting with crash test dummies rather than risking a human life. My guess is that they haven’t progressed beyond that, as if they had finally launched someone into space, even in a very short suborbital flight, it would most likely have been all over the news. Bengtson, Madsen and their team would have been celebrities.

The two also encourage others to copy them, in order to show that it doesn’t have to be massive corporations with extremely expensive launchers getting into space. Bengtson says at the end that people are welcome to join them, or copy the details of the spacecraft from their blog and go off and make their own spacecraft.

Here’s the programme:

This is truly inspiring. I strongly believe that the only way spaceflight will ever truly become a mass enterprise, will be when ordinary people have the opportunity to experience space. When the High Frontier is no longer the sole preserve of giant aerospace companies and national or international organisations, like NASA and ESA. When its more like the mass popular migration into space depicted by Ray Bradbury in his classic collection of short stories, The Martian Chronicles. Without, hopefully, the pessimism about human civilisation and it destructive effects contained in Bradbury’s book. In The Martian Chronicles the human settlers destroy the indigenous Martians, and then their civilisation collapses after a nuclear war destroys all life on Earth, or at least humanity there.

Now rocketry, even at the level of Copenhagen Suborbital, is very advanced engineering. Nevertheless, there’s a very large amateur rocketry milieu around the world. These range from hobbyists, who make and launch model rockets that travel only a few hundred feet up, to some extremely serious rocketeers. One year a group sent a 45 foot minuteman missile into orbit.

One of the issues that might strangle the popular, amateur exploration of space is domestic terrorism. In Britain, research into rockets and their use as spacecraft was seriously hampered by the Victorian legislation, nicknamed ‘the fireworks act’, which made it illegal for amateurs to manufacture explosives. The law was passed as a response to bombings by Irish nationalists. Unfortunately, as well as helping to prevent terrorism, it stopped the various early British amateurs from experimenting, though there were a number of rocket societies which developed in the 1920s. Out of them grew the British Interplanetary Society, which is still going today. It still publishes serious papers on rocketry and space science, as well as more popular coverage of spaceflight. Among its members are the late Arthur C. Clarke, and Matt Irvine, who was one of the special effects team building the models for the cult BBC SF series, Blake’s 7.

The legislation regulating the manufacture of explosives is quite correct. These are highly dangerous materials. Apart from anything else, there’s always the danger of accidents, quite apart from the renewed terrorist threat from ISIS and al-Qaeda much earlier. Even in America, which has much less strict firearms regulations, serious rocketeers have to obtain suitable certificates and permits from the Federal Aviation Authority.

Nevertheless, these Danish guys are showing what you can do with skill and ingenuity without the budget of the big space combines. The motto of the British Interplanetary Society is ‘From Imagination to Reality’ – and they’re doing it!
Godspeed, guys!

From 2012: Private Eye on Bad Atos Decisions and Flawed Government Reports

January 20, 2015

In their 27th January – 9th February 2012 issue, Private Eye reported the case of Keith Tilbury, a man who had suffered severe physical and psychological harm after being accidentally shot by a police firearms instructor. Despite the severity of his injuries, Mr Tilbury was nevertheless judged fit for work by Atos. The same article also criticised the government report which forms the basis for the government’s replacement of the Disability Living Allowance with the Personal Independence Payment. It ran:

Fit-For-Work Tests
Shits in the Dark

In the Eye’s growing post-bag of appalling decisions made by French service company Atos in assessing sick and disabled people as being ~”fit for work~”, one of the most shocking concerns Keith Tilbury.

Mr Tilbury spent 13 days in a coma fighting for his life after he was accidentally shot in the stomach by a police firearms officer. The bullet smashed a rib, damaged his sternum and put a hole in his liver. He had to have part of a kidney removed and lost part of his bowel. He had massive entry and exit wounds, muscle and other extensive soft tissue damage.

Since that disaster in 2007, Mr Tilbury has suffered two heart attacks, two while undergoing surgery, a quadruple coronary bypass, two transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes), one full-blown stroke resulting in reduced vision 9in his eyes, post-operative complications – and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Tilbury, 60, says: ” I have had many hours of cognitive behaviour therapy with a psychotherapist trying to work out why a Thames Valley Police firearms instructor would fire Dirty Harry’s weapon of choice – a.44 magnum – in a seminar room.”

Given his well-documented health records, Mr Tilbury, who had been a civilian emergency call centre operator, is trying to establish how on earth the Atos nurse or doctor – he is not sure which – could decide that he is fit to work without “dropping down dead” when there has been no improvement in his health since his last assessment.

Like thousands of others, Mr Tilbury is having to go through the ordeal of appealing against the decision. He sees the box-ticking Atos test – drawn up with the help of US insurance giant Unum, which was fined millions in the US for cheating its clients – as no more than a government tool to slash the benefits of people who through no fault of their own can no longer work.

As the Eye has extensively reported (see issues 874, 1300, 1301 and 1302), Unum has been helping both Tory and Labour government with so-called welfare reform, going right back to Peter Lilley’s 1994 social security “Incapacity for Work” shake-up.

Atos, which boasts that its contract with the current government is worth “approximately 100m a year”, happened to be the only other private company sitting alongside Unum on the then Labour government’s panel which reviewed and came up with the hated “work capability test” which is now failing Mr Tilbury and thousands like him.

Companies like Atos and Unum (which markets its insurance on the back of welfare reform) now stand to make even more millions, however, as the coalition presses ahead with its plans for similar assessments for those receiving disability living allowance (DLA). By replacing DLA with a personal independence payment which is subject to regular review and face-to-face assessments, the government says it can save £1bn because it claims many people no longer require the support.

But a recent detailed study, Responsible Reform, accuses the government of consistently using inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in DLA claimants, while concealing the overwhelming opposition to its latest reform. The detailed 40-page study – dubbed the Spartacus report and written and funded by disabled people receiving DLA, excluding those with mental health conditions, had remained remarkably stable.

One of the authors, Kaliya Franklin, said: “cutting spending on DLA will increase the burden on local authorities, the NHS and community services at the very time they seeking to find savings by reducing eligibility, particularly for social care support.”

There is no point in subjecting people with permanent disability to regular assessments and those whose conditions do improve would welcome reform – and indeed assessments – if they were simplified and considered robust, fair and transparent. But as Mr Tilbury and so many like him have found, the government’s work capability test, delivered by Atos, is none of those things.

PS: After the shooting incident in which Mr Tilbury was injured, Thames Valley police was fined £40,000 with £25,000 costs and the PC fired the weapon, David Micklethwaite, £8,000 and £8,000 costs, for breaching health and safety regulations.

Although Atos have now pulled out of administering the test, the same deep flaws remain. The test itself, as reported by many bloggers such as Johnny Void, and Mike over at Vox Political, is based on discredited pseudoscience, the biopsychosocial model of illness. Johnny Void has also blogged the other day about how the new contractors for the test, Maximus, will pursue exactly the same policies and recruit many of the same personnel. The only difference is that they’re better at PR, and are seeking to conceal their involvement behind a front company. And Unum are still pressing for further contracts and the dismantlement of the welfare state.

As for the discontinuation of the DLA and its replacement with PIP, many bloggers, including Mr Void and Mike have criticised this. Bloggers like Glynis Millward and the people at DPAC also posted on the findings of the Responsible Reform report.

The Work Capability Assessment is rubbish, and has been shown repeatedly to be rubbish. But as Johnny Void has reported, some Labour shadow ministers continue to think that the system only needs to be reformed.

It doesn’t. It needs to be scrapped completely, along with the parasitic and malign companies, Unum and Maximus, that formulated and administer it.